United Suspends New Reservations for Pet Travel in Cargo Holds

Mar 20, 2018

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After a rough week for pets flying on United, the airline said Tuesday it’s temporarily suspending pet travel in its cargo holds.

The carrier endured several pet-shipping mishaps last week with animals in its cargo holds, including sending a Kansas family’s dog to Japan, and diverting an Ohio-bound plane after mistakenly loading a dog on the wrong flight. United chartered a private jet to bring the Kansas dog back from Japan, and now the airline says it will pause the PetSafe service, which allows owners to ship their pets in the cargo hold, to evaluate how to improve the program.

PetSafe is a different service than flying with pets in-cabin, which was the case when a French bulldog puppy died last week after a United flight attendant ordered its carrier be placed in the overhead bin. After that incident, United said it would start using brightly colored luggage tags to better differentiate pet carriers from other carry-on bags.

A United spokesman told the Associated Press the airline is not ending the pet shipping program, but it’s taking time to consult with independent experts to improve pet safety. United aims to give crew members more advanced notice about the number of pets flying in the cargo hold, with a ramp supervisor to oversee the loading of pets on the plane and a crew member to verify all animals were properly handled before takeoff.

The evaluation of the pet-shipping program is expected to be completed by May 1.

*Correction: The headline of this story was updated to reflect that new reservations are being suspended.

Featured image by United.

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